Riley Strain’s Family Has “Questions” After Autopsy Shows No Water In Lungs, Missing Pants & Boots

Riley Strain
Riley Strain

The family of University of Missouri student Riley Strain still has questions about his death.

The 22-year old’s body was found in the Cumberland River in Nashville last week, two weeks after he went missing after being kicked out of Luke Bryan’s bar, Luke’s 32 Bridge, on Broadway.

After being asked to leave the bar, Strain’s friends called him, but he told them he would just walk back to their hotel. The group was staying at the Tempo Hotel, which is just off of Broadway on 8th Avenue, and just a few blocks from Luke’s bar.

But for some reason, it appears that Strain walked in the opposite direction of his hotel. The student was seen on several videos walking towards the river in downtown Nashville, and the last location that his phone pinged was near the James Robertson Parkway Bridge, near the Davidson County Courthouse at around 9:53 pm.

Search crews had seemed to be concentrating their efforts on the river throughout the search, especially after his debit card was found on an embankment near his last known location.

And on Friday, a worker on the river made the heartbreaking discovery of Strain’s body, still wearing the shirt and watch that he was last seen wearing when he went missing.

The Metro Nashville Police Department announced that a preliminary autopsy found no signs of foul play, and that his death appeared to be accidental, though the final results are still pending toxicology reports.

But the family also ordered their own autopsy, which was also conducted in Nashville – and they still have questions about his death.

Family friend and spokesman Chris Dingman appeared on News Nation this evening and spoke about the concerns that the family still have over the passing of their loved one:

“One thing that threw the family for a loop was the coroner going on record with a news person in Nashville stating about the lack of water in his lungs.

It raises more questions. I’m not a crime drama person by no means, but usually water in the lungs means they were alive when they went into the water.”

And Dingman also says that Strain’s body was found without his pants or boots:

“Unfortunately the only thing that was found with him as the police stated in the report was the watch and the shirt. Everything else was not with him when he was found.”

Strain was reportedly wearing square-toed Justin cowboy boots when he was missing, as well as jeans. His wallet was also missing.

Dingman says that Strain’s family would still like to talk to several people, including homeless people and others in the area when Riley went missing.

“I hope that the ball hasn’t been dropped on this…

I think there’s somebody out there that knows what actually happened that night, and we would love for them to come forward. We need some more info.”

911 Call Released

In the 3 minute call, the worker describes finding Strain as he was working – and it sounds like he knew immediately who it was:

“My company works on the river. I have just found a dead body. I believe it to be Riley.”

The man says that his company unloads barges on the river and that he was checking around his dock when he made the tragic discovery:

“It’s definitely got a person’s hair, black shirt, kinda white, muddy looking on the front, it’s face down in the water.”

And he says that he had to move debris from Strain’s fully-submerged body to confirm what he found, while also requesting that only police and rescue personnel respond to the call (likely knowing that once word got out the chaos that would ensue).

It’s a heartbreaking call, but one that was at least able to provide closure to Strain’s family after a long two-week search.

@bnc_news BREAKING: THEY HAVE JUST RELEASED THE 911 CALL THE WORKER MADE WHO FOUND RILEY STRAINS BODY! #greenscreen #greenscreenvideo #breakingnews #fyp #rileystrain #found #missing #update #nashville #tennessee #cumberlandriver #new ♬ News, news, seriousness, tension(1077866) – Lyrebirds music

“Hug Your Babies Tight”

Strain’s mom, Michelle Whiteid, released a brief, but heartbreaking statement after their 22-year-old son’s body was found in the Cumberland River.

“I just ask that you mommas out there hug your babies tight tonight, please. Please for me, hug your babies tight tonight.”

His father Ryan Gilbert thanked Metro Nashville Police Department, the United Cajun Navy, friends, family, and memebers of the community for their help with the search efforts:

“It’s just unbelievable what they’ve done for us. It’s been an emotional roller-coaster. We’re quite thankful for everything that you’ve done for our family. The grace that you’ve given us, it means a lot, more than you’ll ever know.

To the people of Nashville, I can’t thank you enough for the support, the love, the encouragement that you’ve shown myself and my wife. You don’t understand how much that meant to us in some of our darkest hours.”

RIP Riley.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock